NEWPORT have rung the changes as they attempt to make it third time lucky against their old foes Cardiff at Rodney Parade, writes Chris Kirwan.

The first weekend of the 16-team Principality Premiership pits the Black and Ambers against the Blue and Blacks with the men from the capital having enjoyed two wins from two in the eastern conference.

The entertaining meetings both featured seven tries, Cardiff winning 31-19 in Newport on opening weekend then 37-22 in the capital.

Inconsistent Newport signed off for phase one with a disappointing home loss to Cross Keys last weekend and head coach Craig Warlow tinkers with his XV.

Up front there are starts for tighthead Ken Dowding and flankers Alex Everett and Kyle Tayler while Ryan James and Matt O’Brien return as half-backs with centre Tom Pascoe and wing Adam Sabri getting the nod behind.

There are two east versus west clashes with Bargoed travelling to the Gnoll to take on Neath while Ebbw Vale entertain Llanelli.

The Steelmen will hope to pick up where they left off last week when they beat Bedwas 33-17 at Eugene Cross Park.

Cross Keys opened the season with a tough task against champions Merthyr and it’s the same again in phase two with a trip to face the title favourites.

The men from Pandy Park were edged out 31-29 by the Ironmen in August and understandably haven’t tinkered greatly after their Rodney Parade success, centre Barney Nightingale and tighthead Scott Evans the only changes to the XV.

Bedwas go in search of a repeat of their opening weekend victory at Sardis Road, although Pontypridd are a different beast to the side they beat in August.

Another success at the ‘House of Pain’ would ensure Ian Gardner’s side are considered serious title contenders.

Bedwas bring back a number of first teamers that sat out last week’s dead rubber at Ebbw Vale with influential flanker George Lee captaining the side.

Newport (v Cardiff): G O’Driscoll, J Morris, C Smith, T Pascoe, A Sabri, M O’Brien, R James, J Lavender, H Palmer, K Dowding, J Bartlett, D Partridge, A Everett, K Tayler, L Greggains. Replacements: E Whitson, N Boyce, G Harris, R Cresswell, J Cullimore, R Bates, H Simons, E Frewen.

Cross Keys (at Merthyr): L Andrews, M Powell, L Barnett, B Nightingale, J Goodchild, J Prosser, O Leonard, L Smout, W Griffiths, S Evans, T Lampard, J Skinner, T Basham, S Matthews (captain), A Powell. Replacements: D Hughes, G Carpenter, R Cornock, D Mock, L Davies, C Shephard, R Pritchard, P Williams.

Bedwas (at Pontypridd): A Bramwell, L Evans, M Callow, R Wardle, A Williams, S Jones, T Rowlands, B Toms, A Rees, R Hutcherson, G Edmunds, J Richards, N Hudd, G Lee (captain), A Waite. Replacements: D Preece, E Shipp, J Williams, B Thompson, G Allen, L Crane, M Hathaway, C Edwards

Standings: Merthyr 8, RGC 8, Pontypridd 7, Llandovery 7, Bedwas 6, Carmarthen Q 6, Cardiff 5, Aberavon 5, Newport 4, Llanelli 4, Keys 3, Bridgend 3, Ebbw 2, Swansea 2, Bargoed 1, Neath 1

l It's the first Gwent derby of the WRU Championship today when leaders Pontypool entertain Newbridge.

Pooler are a perfect 12 wins from 12, 10 of those successes with bonus points, but ‘Bridge have been in fine form recently with a four-game winning streak seeing them climb to fifth.

Pontypool did the double last year with a 50-17 home success and 40-10 triumph at the Welfare Ground.